Since March we’ve had our share of unique experiences: the COVID-19 pandemic, lockdowns, social isolation, constant news surfing, social and political upheaval, etc. These experiences led to a number of social/emotional responses, not the least of which have been significant rises in depression symptoms and suicidal thoughts.
Time magazine related the following:
A pre-pandemic survey of about 5,000 American adults found that 8.5% of them showed strong enough signs of depression (including feeling down or hopeless; loss of interest in things that normally bring joy; low energy; trouble concentrating; or thinking about self-harm) to warrant a probable diagnosis. When researchers surveyed almost 1,500 American adults about their mental health from March to April of this year, that number rose to almost 28%. Even more people—almost an additional 25%—showed milder signs of depression.JAMIE DUCHARME
These depression symptoms further resulted in an increase in suicidal thoughts. According to the CDC 11% of adults contemplated suicide in June. The percentage of individuals in the 18-24 age group was a staggering 25.5% in June.
No doubt our unique set of circumstances has driven us to emotional, mental, and societal turmoil. We are not the first people to face such turmoil, nor will we be the last. Currently, we are working through the book of Jeremiah at our church. If you’re interested, you can find our sermons on YouTube or Vimeo. Jeremiah’s ministry was more than 40 years long during a time when his nation was idolatrous and immoral. He invited them to repent, warned them of coming judgment, and found stability in his walk with God. As you might imagine Jeremiah was unpopular in his day. He suffered from anxieties, isolation, and persecution. His experience offers us some insight into how we can address our own anxieties and emotions in these days.
Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart, for I am called by your name, O LORD, God of hosts.Jeremiah 15:16.
- Pursue peace through God’s Word. Jeremiah’s expression of joy in 15:16 is rare in his complaints and prophecies. Most of his prayers are laments and complaints. But Jeremiah found joy in the Word of God. Reading, studying, and memorizing Scripture is the primary means for the follower of Jesus to find peace, joy, and consolation in the midst of turmoil and anxiety. Remember, the news media and politicians are invested in your conflicts and anxieties. I’m not suggesting that you stick your head in the sand and ignore the news, but I am recommending that you spend more time in God’s Word and less time being inundated with the anxiety-driven news cycle around us.
- Get help if you need it. God’s Word is an effective means for dealing with anxieties and worries, but in some cases you might need more help. If you are overly anxious, suicidal, or experiencing depression-like symptoms, let somebody know. Family, friends, fellow church members, or pastors will be willing to get you the help you need. Please don’t ignore your emotional well-being.
- Look for someone else to encourage. Maybe you’re reading this and you’re ok. You’ve had your anxieties, but you’re through them. You’re in God’s Word and are experiencing his presence and blessings. Great! Look for someone else to encourage. You may be ok, but not everyone else is. If you are concerned about someone, check on them. Give them a call. Shoot them a text. Visit with them. As followers of Jesus, we are to share one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2).
If you are follower of Jesus, remember that you are called by the name of the Lord. We will get through this because we have God’s promises and his presence.